Coaching Buzz: Saban, Pettine And (Jay) Gruden

We’ve learned that what Nick Saban says and what Nick Saban does when it comes to his coaching future can be two different things. But he sounded pretty convincing Tuesday when the questions about the NFL came up once again. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I think somewhere along the line you’ve got to choose. You learn a lot from the experiences of what you’ve done in the past.

“I came to the Miami Dolphins, what, eight years ago for the best owner, the best person that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for. And in the two years that I was here, had a very, very difficult time thinking that I could impact the organization in the way that I wanted to or the way that I was able to in  college, and it was very difficult for me, because there’s a lot of parity in the NFL, there’s a lot of rules in the NFL.

“And people say you can draft the players that you want to draft; you can draft a player that’s there when you pick. It might not be the player you need, it might not be the player you want. You’ve got salary cap issues. We had them here. You’ve got to have a quarterback. We had a chance to get one here; sort of messed it up.

“So I didn’t feel like I could impact the team the same way that I can as a college coach in terms of affecting people’s lives personally, helping them develop careers by graduating from school, off the field, by helping develop them as football players, and there’s a lot of self-gratification in all that, all right.”

“I kind of learned through that experience (with the Dolphins) that maybe this is where I belong, and I’m really happy and at peace with all that,” said Saban. “So no matter how many times I say that, y’all don’t believe it, so I don’t even know why I keep talking about it.”

Local product Mike Pettine, who served as the Jets defensive coordinator from 2009 to this past season, is a free agent. And he’s keeping at least a half-an-eye on what the Eagles are doing. From Ed Kracz:

“Obviously a lot of people, myself included, are very interested to see what happens there,” he said. “Growing up an Eagles fan, you always have that hometown team in the back of your mind.”

Pettine, the CB West grad and former North Penn coach, is expected to interview for the DC job in Buffalo.

Finally, a report surfaced that the Eagles will interview Jay Gruden on Wednesday. The Eagles have denied that report.

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One Week In, New Names For Eagles To Consider

The Eagles are one week into their coaching search, and the landscape has changed considerably.

Chip Kelly and Bill O’Brien are staying at Oregon and Penn State, respectively. Dirk Koetter will remain offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. And Doug Marrone signed on with the Bills.

All four were on the Eagles’ radar at one time or another during the last seven days.

So where do Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski go from here? The interviews will continue this week. Below is a list of candidates to keep an eye on.

Gus Bradley – Defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

The latest: Based on our post from this morning, Bradley might be the fan favorite. He’s been the Seahawks defensive coordinator since 2009. This year, Seattle finished first in scoring defense (15.3 PPG) and fourth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. Bradley was part of the Tampa Bay Bucs’ staff for three seasons. Monte Kiffin called him a once-in-a-lifetime coach. Pete Carroll said Bradley’s the best teacher he’s ever been around. And players seem to love taking the field for him. The 46-year-old is expected to interview with the Eagles this week, although no specific date has been set. The process still has to play out, but Bradley appears to be very much in the mix.

Mike McCoyOffensive coordinator, Denver Broncos

The latest: The Eagles moved on from Kelly Sunday and interviewed McCoy in Denver. The 40-year-old Broncos offensive coordinator is drawing plenty of interest and has also interviewed with the Bears and Cardinals. We’ve discussed why McCoy’s attractive at length here. He’s maximized the potential of quarterbacks like Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. Most would agree that having a franchise quarterback is the most direct route to NFL success. But what happens when you can’t find one of those guys? It’s good to have a coach who can adapt to personnel. And McCoy’s done that. Peyton Manning said recently he thinks McCoy is ready to be an NFL coach. The Eagles are not allowed to interview McCoy for a second time until the Broncos are knocked out of the playoffs. If Denver reaches the Super Bowl, teams can interview McCoy again after championship weekend.

Jay Gruden – Offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

The latest: The Eagles have requested permission to interview Gruden, but have not yet received it. The Bengals are out of the playoffs after failing to score an offensive touchdown Saturday against the Texans. Andy Dalton has left plays on the field all season long. Then again, if Gruden is going to be credited with helping to develop Dalton, he surely deserves part of the blame for the second-year QB not playing better in the postseason. Gruden had never been a coordinator or position coach in the NFL or college before 2011. His resume won’t blow suitors away. Gruden’s best chance at landing a head-coaching gig will be to impress during the interview process.

Bruce Arians – Offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

The latest: Arians missed yesterday’s loss to the Ravens after being hospitalized with nausea and headaches. Stepping in for Chuck Pagano, he has been at the center of the feel-good story in the NFL this season. Arians has experience working with young quarterbacks. He’s helped Andrew Luck along as a rookie and worked with Ben Roethlisberger from 2007-2011, a run that included a Super Bowl win and another Super Bowl appearance. He of course has Philadelphia roots too, having served as the head coach at Temple from 1983 to 1988. The one thing working against Arians is that he’s 60 and has never been an NFL head coach. Colts GM Ryan Grigson said recently that the team would like to try to keep Arians. The Eagles are expected to interview him, but no date has been set.

Darrell Bevell – Offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

The latest: I’m guessing Bevell has an entire page on his resume devoted to Russell Wilson. The rookie QB completed over 64 percent of his passes and threw 26 touchdowns this season. And the Seahawks are headed to the divisional round of the playoffs to take on the Falcons. Bevell has seven years of coordinator experience – the last two with the Seahawks and the previous five with the Vikings. He also served six years on the Packers’ staff, including three seasons as quarterbacks coach. The Seahawks finished the year eighth in scoring offense and fourth in Football Outsiders’ rankings. So far, the only interview Bevell has lined up is with the Bears. But that could change.

Mike Nolan – Falcons defensive coordinator

The latest: The Eagles interviewed him last week. Tim talked to Dan Reeves about Nolan’s credentials and his desire for a second chance. There’s no doubt that Nolan is a respected defensive coordinator, but he went just 18-37 in three-plus seasons with the 49ers. That history will be tough to sell to a frustrated fan base. Then again, Lurie said the Eagles are going to make the right choice, even if it’s not the most popular one. No other team has been linked to Nolan.

Lovie Smith – Former head coach, Chicago Bears

The latest: You figure if the Eagles are willing to give Nolan a look, then they should at least see what Smith has to say. The former Bears coach went 81-63 in nine seasons in Chicago. Smith’s teams were almost always in the mix, but only made the playoffs three times. He had defense and special teams covered, but never could quite get the offense going. Smith interviewed with the Bills before they hired Marrone. He is 54-years-old.

Keith ArmstrongSpecial-teams coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

The latest: The Eagles interviewed him last week. Armstrong has drawn interest from the Bears and Chiefs too. There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about giving special-teams coaches a look. Armstrong played his college ball at Temple and is a Levittown native. Given some of the coaches he’s up against, Armstrong seems like a longshot at this point.

Mike Zimmer – Defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

The latest: Mike Mayock openly lobbied for Zimmer to get a look during Saturday’s broadcast. He’s spent the past 13 seasons as a coordinator – five with the Bengals, one with the Falcons and seven with the Cowboys. While Zimmer got a pair of interviews last year (Bucs, Dolphins), he’s yet to get a head-coaching opportunity. Zimmer’s units have finished in the top-10 in scoring defense in three of the past four seasons. In the second half of 2012, the Bengals allowed just 12.8 points per game. At 56-years-old, Zimmer may find himself stuck in the coordinator box. He has no reported interviews scheduled, even though there are still five head-coaching vacancies.

Greg Roman – Offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

The latest: I’m a bit surprised he has not had any interviews yet. Roman, a Ventnor N.J. native, has worked on Jim Harbaugh’s staff for the past four seasons – two with the Niners and two at Stanford. Under the direction of Roman and Harbaugh, Alex Smith turned in his best season as a pro in 2011. The 49ers’ offense turned the ball over just 10 times last season, tied for the fewest in NFL history. This year, the 49ers have changed their offense to fit Colin Kaepernick’s talents. San Francisco is 11th in the league in scoring offense and ranks fifth, according to Football Outsiders. Roman, 40, has never been a head coach at any level and has only been an NFL coordinator for two seasons.

Ben McAdoo – Quarterbacks coach, Green Bay Packers

The latest: Tim introduced us to McAdoo last month as a potential sleeper. He’s worked with Aaron Rodgers and was being looked at as a coordinator by other teams last offseason. Lurie, of course, went this route once before and had success hiring a certain QBs coach from Green Bay. McAdoo is 35-years-old. The Packers take on the 49ers in the divisional round this weekend.

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Jay Gruden On Eagles’ Radar

The Eagles have requested permission to interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Tim McManus has confirmed.

Gruden has been with Cincinnati the past two seasons. He’s done a nice job of developing young talent – specifically quarterback Andy Dalton. A second-round pick in 2011, Dalton threw 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a rookie. His numbers are up across the board this year, as Dalton completed 62.3 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The Bengals ranked 12th in scoring offense (24.4 PPG) and were 17th in Football Outsiders’ rankings.

Gruden had never been a coordinator or a position coach in the NFL or college before 2011. He was a coach/general manager in the UFL and also served as a coach in the AFL. Gruden was an offensive assistant with the Bucs from 2002 to 2008, while he simultaneously held some of those other posts.

“We are not reinventing the wheel against every new defense we face,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said about Gruden, per the team’s Web site. “Jay sees the offense through the quarterback’s eyes, and it’s a case of building from week to week, rather than starting over. The quarterback has a lot of leeway in the things he can call, and Jay recognized that Andy was the type of player who could use those options effectively.”

Gruden and the Bengals take on the Texans today in the divisional round. But win or lose, assistants whose teams are playing this weekend can interview for head-coaching jobs next week, as long as they are granted permission.

Tim provided more background on Gruden in an earlier post, talking to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer about the head-coaching candidate.

Gruden is 45-years-old.

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Updated List Of Eagles Coaching Candidates

Now that we’re three days into the process, here’s an updated list of potential Eagles coaching targets.

Chip Kelly – Head Coach, University of Oregon

The latest: Several reports suggest the Eagles have Kelly on their short list, but they’re going to have competition. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com suggests Jeffrey Lurie could be in a battle with Joe Banner for Kelly’s services. Two high-ranking NFL executives tell Adam Caplan that Kelly is the clear-cut No. 1 choice for the Browns. Kelly’s Oregon Ducks take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday. After that game, look for teams to move aggressively to interview him.

Bill O’Brien – Penn State head coach

The latest: He’s another college coach drawing quite a bit of interest. According to David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Eagles, Browns and Cardinals all plan on interviewing O’Brien. There would be issues to work around for teams pursuing O’Brien, including a buyout in his contract with Penn State. But he has plenty of qualities owners and GMs will covet. O’Brien has five years of NFL experience with the Patriots, he led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record amid difficult circumstances, and he’s held a variety of college assistant jobs. Those who have covered O’Brien closely suggest he’ll shine during the interview process. At this point, it’d be a surprise if the Eagles decided not to give O’Brien a serious look.

Mike McCoyOffensive coordinator, Denver Broncos

The latest: A source confirmed Wednesday morning that the Eagles plan on meeting with McCoy. They’ll need to get in line. The Broncos offensive coordinator is also drawing interest from the Bears, Bills and Cardinals. What’s there to like about McCoy? He has an excellent track record of maximizing the potential of quarterbacks he’s worked with – like Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. This year, his job’s been a little bit easier with Peyton Manning. The Broncos are second in the NFL in scoring offense. McCoy is only 40-years-old and is the kind of coach Lurie might envision leading the franchise for several years to come.

Jon Gruden – ESPN analyst

The latest: As always, his situation is fluid. It looks like Gruden might have put some feelers out but ended up unable to find a fit – either because of his demands or lack of team interest. His name had been in rumors at the beginning of the week, but Dan Pompei of the National Football Post reported yesterday that Gruden is leaning towards staying at ESPN. Either way, I’m not ready to rule him out completely just yet.

Doug Marrone – Syracuse head coach

The latest: According to an Inquirer report, Marrone is one of the candidates the Eagles are expected to target. Like O’Brien, he has NFL experience in addition to having been a college head coach. Marrone was the Saints offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008. And he coached the Jets offensive line from 2002 to 2005.

Mike Nolan – Falcons defensive coordinator

The latest: The Eagles were scheduled to interview him today. Tim talked to Dan Reeves about Nolan’s credentials and his desire for a second chance. There’s no doubt that Nolan is a respected defensive coordinator, but he went just 18-37 in three-plus seasons with the 49ers. That history will be tough to sell to a frustrated fan base. Then again, Lurie said the Eagles are going to make the right choice, even if it’s not the most popular one. No other team has been linked to Nolan.

Keith ArmstrongFalcons special-teams coordinator

The latest: The Eagles were scheduled to interview him today also. Armstrong has drawn interest from the Bears and Chiefs too. There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about giving special-teams coaches a look. Armstrong played his college ball at Temple and is a Levittown native. Given some of the coaches he’s up against, Armstrong would likely have to knock the interview with Lurie out of the park.

Greg Roman – Offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

What you need to know: I’m a bit surprised he has not had any interviews (or at least any interviews leaked). Like the Broncos and Falcons, the 49ers have a first-round bye, meaning Roman is free to talk to interested teams this week. I’m not ready to rule him out yet since we’re so early in the process.

The following candidates cannot interview this week because their current teams have games this weekend. All were on our original list (which contains information on each candidate).

Jay Gruden – Offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

Gus Bradley – Defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

Darrell Bevell – Offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

Mike Zimmer – Defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

Ben McAdoo – Packers quarterbacks coach

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Coaching Buzz: Eagles To Interview Nolan, Armstrong

The Eagles apparently like what they’ve seen from the 13-3 Falcons this season.

Birds 24/7 has confirmed  that the team has asked for permission to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.

Nolan is looking for a second head-coaching opportunity. The 49ers were 18-37 in three-plus seasons under his direction from 2005 to 2008. Nolan has served as a defensive coordinator for seven different teams: the Falcons (2012); Dolphins (2010-2011); Broncos (2009); Ravens (2002-2004); Jets (2000); Redskins (1997-1999); and Giants (1993-1996).

The Falcons are fifth in scoring defense, allowing 18.7 points per game, and rank 11th in Football Outsiders’ defensive rankings.

Nolan was 35 when he first became a defensive coordinator and is now 53.

Armstrong, 47, has been the Falcons’ special-teams coach for the past five seasons. His units have produced up-and-down results, per Football Outsiders’ rankings: seventh in 2008, 22nd in 2009, third in 2010; 22nd in 2011; and 16th in 2012.

Prior to joining the Falcons’ staff, Armstrong served as special-teams coach of the Dolphins from 2001 to 2006 and Chicago’s special teams coach from 1997 to 2000. Armstrong was Atlanta’s secondary coach in 1996 and the Falcons’ safeties coach in 1994 and 1995. He played his college ball at Temple from 1983 to 1986 and served as a graduate assistant with the Owls in 1987. He’s originally from Levittown.

The Rooney Rule stipulates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate. Armstrong would qualify.

Because the Falcons are in the playoffs, Eagles brass are scheduled to travel to Atlanta to interview all three candidates on Wednesday, according to the report.

MORE COACHING BUZZ

Andy Reid will be one of three candidates to interview with the Cardinals, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

Reid has remained committed to coaching somewhere in 2013. The Arizona gig would reunite him with Kevin Kolb, the quarterback he selected in the second round of the 2007 draft. The Cardinals have an elite wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and several talented pieces on defense like linebacker Daryl Washington, defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The other two candidates interviewing for the job are current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

* It looks like we might have to pump the brakes on the Jon Gruden rumors:

Pompei, a columnist for the National Football Post and Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that Gruden was looking to return, suggesting the Eagles could be a likely landing spot. Either Gruden didn’t receive any offers he liked, or this flip-flopping will continue. Not ready to rule anything out yet.

* The Chip Kelly/Eagles buzz continues.

Jay Gruden cannot interview with teams this week since the Bengals take on the Texans on Saturday.

* And finally, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is staying put.

As always, catch all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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Reid’s Replacement? Start With These Names

Who will be the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles? Here’s a list of names to get you started.

Mike McCoyOffensive coordinator, Denver Broncos

What you need to know: If Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are looking for a coach who’s shown he can adapt to personnel, they’ll want to give McCoy a call. He catered Denver’s offense to fit Tim Tebow’s skill set in 2011 and now coaches a Peyton Manning-led group that ranks second in scoring (going into Sunday). Kyle Orton had the best years of his career under McCoy’s direction. And Jake Delhomme made a Pro Bowl in 2005 with McCoy as his quarterbacks coach. Fun fact: McCoy, a former QB, spent training camp with the Eagles back in 1998. The 40-year-old has never been a head coach.

Jon Gruden – ESPN analyst

What you need to know: As recently as Saturday night, this seemed like a longshot. But respected columnist Dan Pompei of the National Football Post wrote Sunday morning that people around Gruden are convinced he’s coming back and believe there’s “a good chance” he lands in Philadelphia. Hiring Gruden would indicate that Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman believe they’ve assembled a talented roster that has underachieved and is close to being competitive immediately.

Bill O’Brien – Penn State head coach

What you need to know: It had seemed likely that he was staying put, but Chris Mortensen’s report that O’Brien is on the Eagles’ short list changes things. There’s a lot to like about the Penn State head coach. He spent five seasons as an assistant with the Patriots, including one as offensive coordinator. And he showed he’s capable of working through extremely difficult circumstances while in Happy Valley. Belichick’s disciples have struggled outside of New England, but O’Brien may be an exception since he’s already proven himself elsewhere. O’Brien’s contract with Penn State contains a buyout, but then again, the Saints are shelling out $8.5 million per season for Sean Payton. In other words, owners are willing to pay to get their man.

Chip Kelly – Head Coach, University of Oregon

What you need to know: Hailed as an offensive mastermind, Kelly may be the most-hyped candidate on the market. We’ve written about him at length in this space. He has four years of college head-coaching experience, but has never held a job in the NFL. Oregon’s offense averaged 50.8 points per game this season, second in the country. The Ducks have ranked first, second, third and eighth in scoring offense during Kelly’s tenure as head coach. Bill Belichick has picked Kelly’s brain and incorporated aspects of his scheme into the Patriots’ offense. Teams looking to add Kelly will have to ask themselves whether they’re hiring him for his offensive mind or his offensive system. The system might fail, especially with inadequate personnel, but Kelly’s success in college suggests he’ll be able to figure things out at the NFL level. The Bucs offered Kelly their head-coaching job last offseason, but he ultimately decided to stay at Oregon. The consensus seems to be that he’s ready to make the leap this offseason. Kelly is 49-years-old.

Greg Roman – Offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

What you need to know: Roman, a Ventnor N.J. native, has worked on Jim Harbaugh’s staff for the past four seasons – two with the Niners and two at Stanford. Under the direction of Roman and Harbaugh, Alex Smith turned in his best season as a pro in 2011. The 49ers’ offense turned the ball over just 10 times last season, tied for the fewest in NFL history. This year, the 49ers have changed their offense to fit Colin Kaepernick’s talents. San Francisco is 11th in the league in scoring offense and ranks fifth, according to Football Outsiders. Roman, 40, has never been a head coach at any level and has only been an NFL coordinator for two seasons.

Dirk Koetter – Offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

What you need to know: Koetter has helped Matt Ryan have a career year as the Falcons rank fifth in scoring offense and 10th in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Koetter produced mixed results in his previous stops. He served five years (2007-2011) as the offensive coordinator of the Jaguars. Arizona State was 40-34 under Koetter’s direction, and Boise State was 26-10. Koetter worked with Andy Reid at three different spots – San Francisco State (1985), UTEP (1986-1988) and Missouri (1989-1993). He is 52.

Jay Gruden – Offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

What you need to know: Tim had a good breakdown of Gruden earlier this month. He’s done a nice job developing young talent – and specifically, a young quarterback – the past two seasons. Andy Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011, threw 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a rookie. This year, his numbers are up across the board. A.J. Green, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the top receivers in the game, and the Bengals are headed back to the playoffs for the second straight season. Gruden had never been a coordinator or a position coach in the NFL or college before 2011, although he did serve as an offensive assistant with the Bucs from 2002 to 2008. He’s 45-year-old.

Gus Bradley – Defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

What you need to know: Bradley’s spent the last four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, and the results this year speak for themselves. The Seahawks lead the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 15.5 points per game, and are second in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Bradley coaches a versatile, physical group, and the Seahawks boast perhaps the best secondary in the NFL. Bradley, 46, worked under Monte Kiffin in Tampa for three seasons. He was the linebackers coach from 2007 to 2008 and Tampa’s defensive quality control coach before that.

Ray Horton – Defensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals

What you need to know: The Cardinals have received no help from their offense, but the 3-4 ‘D’ ranks fifth in Football Outsiders’ rankings – second against the pass. Horton played for and coached under Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau. He has 19 years of NFL coaching experience, including six with the Steelers (2005-2010). Horton interviewed with the Rams last year before they hired Jeff Fisher. He could be in line to take over for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona if he is fired.

Darrell Bevell – Offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

What you need to know: Bevell has seven years of coordinator experience – the last two with the Seahawks and the previous five with the Vikings. He also served six years on the Packers’ staff, including three seasons as quarterbacks coach. The Seahawks are eighth in scoring offense and fourth in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Bevell and the Seahawks coaches have done a masterful job building the offense around rookie signal-caller Russell Wilson. Bevell is 42.

Mike Zimmer – Defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

What you need to know: He’s spent the past 13 seasons as a coordinator – five with the Bengals, one with the Falcons and seven with the Cowboys. While Zimmer got a pair of interviews last year (Bucs, Dolphins), he’s yet to get a head-coaching opportunity. Zimmer’s units have finished in the top-10 in scoring defense in three of the past four seasons. Cincinnati is second in the NFL with 47 sacks. Zimmer is 56-years-old.

Bruce Arians – Offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

What you need to know: Stepping in for Chuck Pagano, Arians has been at the center of the feel-good story in the NFL this season. A year after earning the No. 1 pick with a 2-14 record, the Colts are headed to the playoffs. Arians has experience working with young quarterbacks. He’s helped Andrew Luck along as a rookie and worked with Ben Roethlisberger from 2007-2011, a run that included a Super Bowl win and another Super Bowl appearance. He of course has Philadelphia roots too, having served as the head coach at Temple from 1983 to 1988. The one thing working against Arians is that he’s 60 and has never been an NFL head coach before.

Ben McAdoo – Packers quarterbacks coach

What you need to know: Tim introduced us to McAdoo earlier this month as a potential sleeper. He’s worked with Aaron Rodgers and was being looked at as a coordinator by other teams last offseason. Lurie, of course, went this route once before and had success hiring a certain QBs coach from Green Bay.

Mike Nolan, Falcons defensive coordinator

What you need to know: He went 18-37 in three-plus seasons as the 49ers head coach, but he may get a second look. Atlanta is fourth in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 18.5 points per game. Nolan’s also served stints as the defensive coordinator of the Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Redskins, Jets and Giants.

Mel Tucker, Jaguars defensive coordinator

What you need to know: Another one of the sleepers McManus’ listed previously. He’s had little to work with in terms of talent in Jacksonville, and the results as of late have not been pretty (27th in scoring defense in 2012). The 40-year-old recently interviewed for the University of Wisconsin head-coaching job, enforcing the belief that the Jaguars’ struggles on defense are due to talent, not bad coaching.

Dave Toub, Bears special-teams coordinator

What you need to know: Toub served on the Eagles’ staff from 2001 to 2003 as an assistant, working with John Harbaugh’s special-teams group and the defensive line. He interviewed with the Dolphins for their head-coaching vacancy last offseason. Chicago’s special-teams units are consistently among the best in the league. SI.com’s Don Banks recently suggested that special-teams coaches may get more of a look this offseason.

Steve Sarkisian, University of Washington head coach

What you need to know: He was mentioned recently by Albert Breer of NFL Network as a potential candidate. Sarkisian has coached the Huskies the last four years, previously spent time as an assistant at USC and served one year as the quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders.

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Coaching Buzz: A Look At Jay Gruden

The focus may be on the wrong Gruden.

While plenty of fans are clamoring for the more famous brother, Jon, to climb down from the broadcast booth to take over the Eagles in 2013, the chances  of that becoming a reality are slim. But hiring his younger brother, Jay, just might make some sense.

The Eagles will get a first-hand look at Jay Gruden‘s work on Thursday night when the Bengals come to Philly. The 45-year-old is in his second year as offensive coordinator for Cincinnati. Integral in the selection and development of quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, Gruden helped transform the Bengals from a 4-12 club in 2010 to a playoff team the following year. Dalton and Green became the first quarterback-wide receiver duo to play in the Pro Bowl as rookies.

As it just so happens, the Eagles have a young Texas-born quarterback of their own that could use some mentoring.

“From everything I have heard I think Foles would be a good fit for his system. I think Foles and Jay would get along pretty well,” offered Bengals beat man Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He is a big guy (Foles is 6-5, 243; Dalton is 6-2, 220), he is accurate and he makes good decisions. I think Jay likes quarterbacks with a little bit of moxy and the ability to persevere.

“Dalton and Foles are about equal in mobility. [Gruden] values accuracy and I know one thing about Foles coming out was that he is extremely accurate.”

Reedy explained that Gruden runs a variation of the West Coast offense that is more rooted in a balanced attack and features a decent amount of the vertical game. He likes the tight end working underneath, and his methods work best with versatile backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield and hold up in pass protection.

“We are not reinventing the wheel against every new defense we face,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “Jay sees the offense through the quarterback’s eyes, and it’s a case of building from week to week, rather than starting over. The quarterback has a lot of leeway in the things he can call, and Jay recognized that Andy was the type of player who could use those options effectively.”

You can argue that the Eagles have some pieces in place to run Gruden’s system effectively, and a quarterback that might work for him.

Gruden was a quarterback himself both at the University of Louisville and later in the World League and AFL. He was an assistant for the Bucs from 2002-08 and won a Super Bowl coaching under Jon in Tampa. He also won two AFL titles as head coach of the Orlando Predators.

Gruden was said to have been offered the Jaguars head coaching job last year, but declined. Part of the reason is because he is not a man that likes to uproot his family. Reedy said that Andy Reid tried to add Gruden to his staff on multiple occasions before Lewis got him but his advances were denied, in part for the very same reason.

“One of his kids is a senior in high school and one is just starting,” said Reedy. “One reason he stayed out of coaching searches last year is he made a promise with his family that they would stick around for at least one more year.”

Would he be willing to move now for a head coaching gig?

“I think he wants a shot but it’s got to be the right situation,” Reedy said. “He is young enough where he can kind of wait and confident enough that he is not going to take a job just for the sake of taking it.”

A reminder that you can find all of the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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